LONDON HOSTS EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE

OLAF/05/06 Brussels/London, the 20 April 2005

The first London gathering of official spokespersons from national anti-fraud agencies from throughout the European Union was opened yesterday by Robert Wardle, the Director of the UK Serious Fraud Office. Representatives from 25 member states and candidate countries attended the 7th meeting of the network of national spokespersons - the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN). For the event, organised by the Serious Fraud Office and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), around 50 delegates from police authorities, customs and revenue agencies and prosecution authorities throughout Europe met to develop closer links to enhance opportunities to improve information flow to the European public about the fight against fraud at national and at European Community level.

In his welcome address, Mr Wardle said that though anti-fraud organisations have highly trained and dedicated people experienced in the investigation and prosecution of fraudsters it was equally important for communicators to be just as skilled in their field and as dedicated as their operational colleagues. He said that government communicators owe the public they serve the very best in professionalism.

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office encouraged the delegates to maximise the benefits of information sharing, to discuss their experiences and to use every opportunity to work together to maximise the "good news" potential of success in the fight against fraud. He said that OLAF was ideally placed to "champion" the cause for adding the benefits of the European cooperation ingredient in the area of anti-fraud news and he acknowledged the work they had initiated to develop this since the inception of the network in 2001.

The network of spokespersons/public relations experts is coordinated by the EC's special bureau for the investigation of fraud on the community budget - European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). See http://europa.eu/olaf. The aim of the Anti-fraud Communicators' Network co-ordinated by OLAF is to contribute to the prevention of fraud by publishing the actions of anti-fraud agencies and to improve communication opportunities and media relations skills throughout those agencies.

Fraud is a cost to the collective EU economy. No member state is untouched by it. Examples such as investment fraud, tax fraud, illegal imports and counterfeited goods and can be found throughout the EU. Effective communication of the threat of fraud and of the investigative and judicial measures being undertaken by national agencies to counter that threat, sometimes working on cases in tandem with OLAF, provides a re-assurance to the public that resources and skills are being deployed on their behalf by their governments and by the EC to combat this aspect of criminal activity.

OLAF co-ordinates network collaboration meetings and organises media relations training events for spokespersons from member states and candidate countries. The meeting in London was the first to be held in a member state location. All had previously been held at EC facilities in Brussels.

Serious Fraud Office
Elm House, 10-16 Elm Street,
London WC1X 0BJ
Tel : +44 (0)20 7239 7001
Fax : +44 (0)20 7837 1173
www.sfo.gov.uk

European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Alessandro Butticé

Head of Communication,
PR and Spokesman Unit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.54.25
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.81.01

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